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 El Dia de Los Muertos

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Oct 31, 2001
This caught my eye today; it fits. Happy reunions, everyone.

More diaries by chloedancer
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"The Day of the Dead" may well be one of the most cherished holidays in Mexican culture. For two days, Nov. 1 (All Saints Day) and Nov. 2 (All Souls Day), the spirits of the dead return from heaven, hell and purgatory to celebrate with their families. It is a time to rejoice with the spirits of the dearly beloved, a time to remember those who have passed not with tears, but with happiness.

Observation of el Dia de Los Muertos differs from region to region in Mexico, but the history behind it remains unchanged. The popular holiday can be traced back to Aztec festivities during Miccaihuitontli, a month dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, or the Lady of the Dead. Her face is unforgettable and she goes by many names: La Catrina, la Flaca, la Huesuda, la Pelona (Fancy Lady), Skinny, Bony, Baldy. A fixture in Mexican society, she's not some trendy fashion model, but La Muerte--Death.

Just before the holiday, markets overflow with gifts for los muertos (the dead). Shoppers snap up everything from flowers, statues, sugared candies and el pan de muerto (bread of the dead) as people begin to prepare their own ofrendas (home altars) in honor of family and friends who have passed on. Huge picnics surround memorials and cemeteries, as people gather to celebrate the memories of loved ones they have lost.

The most important symbol of the holiday, the calavera (skull) implies a different meaning than it does in American culture. To the Mexicans, the calavera represents the playfulness of the dead, not the haunting of the soul. After all, el Dia de Los Muertos is not a time for grief. As the elders say, tears only wet the path of the dead and make it harder for them to return to the living.

Renowned writer Octavio Paz observes that, undaunted by death, the Mexican has no qualms about getting up close and personal with death, noting that he "...chases after it, mocks it, courts it, hugs it, sleeps with it; it is his favorite plaything and his most lasting love."

(Credit to Angelique Gillmer, 10-29-2001)


Crossing The Bar (none / 0) (#1)
by Peter Johnson on Wed Oct 31st, 2001 at 04:56:26 PM PST
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1883)

Are you adequate?

We just went and saw... (none / 0) (#2)
by elenchos on Thu Nov 1st, 2001 at 12:23:58 AM PST
...this at my school's museum. It's rad. You can look at these little statues and sculptures and read the symbols like a book: cross, heart, spear, nails, bottle, dress, ladder, chicken. You see the same elements again and again. Some of it is Santeria stuff from the Yoruba culture and some of it is Roman Catholic and some Aztec. Very cool.

We (me and poltroon and my friend the philosophical counselor) then went to see the 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame inside this huge Gothic Cathedral with a live organist and everything. Episcopalian culture, too, is somewhat sophisticated too, although rather cruder in many ways.

I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill

I'm convinced... (none / 0) (#5)
by poltroon on Thu Nov 1st, 2001 at 01:27:56 PM PST
the 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame inside this huge Gothic Cathedral

...this is the precise purpose for which God created cathedrals. It's sad to see them so misused most of the time.

Everything's creepier in a goth Cathedral! (5.00 / 1) (#6)
by elenchos on Thu Nov 1st, 2001 at 03:21:53 PM PST
Roman Catholics also have the best S&M. They build up all this guilt and tension and then have to go to such lengths to act it out. Just look at the subtext of everything Adam Rightman says about sex. Nasty!

After the total collapse of religion, we'll have some fun with all those cathedrals though, eh? Movie theaters, dungeons, night clubs. Hey! Wouldn't it be cool to work at a software company that used an old cathedral as office space? You could set up all your Ikea tables and Aeron chairs where the pews are. High ceilings, live organist, espresso machine in the alcove...

I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill

bavoso (none / 0) (#8)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Nov 1st, 2001 at 09:13:39 PM PST
No, tiene respecto por Diós.

Religion is not an organization, like Christianity, Islam, Hindhuism, or anything else. It is a belief we hold within ourselves. You are paethetic.

um, (none / 0) (#9)
by poltroon on Thu Nov 1st, 2001 at 09:51:28 PM PST
Since he is talking about organized religion (organizations which plant buildings), yes, religion is a bunch of organizations, in this context.

Yeah, who cares about disorganized religion? (none / 0) (#10)
by elenchos on Thu Nov 1st, 2001 at 10:04:18 PM PST
Also known as being "spiritual." It's when people stay home and stare at the ceiling thinking real hard about life and "God" and stuff. Go to it; knock yourself out, I say. Disorganized religion never bothered anyone, and never asked for police powers or tax money to spend. Disorganized religion never mindlessly slaughtered an odd few thousand people because they were non-members of a different non-organization.

You are paethetic.

Can you believe some Anonymous Coward would say such a thing to me? Such insolence.

I am magnificent.

I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill

Pitiful cowards. (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by poltroon on Fri Nov 2nd, 2001 at 10:30:30 AM PST
They return to their pitiful lives, and eventually succumb to some vile pestilence, never to recognize having scraped right up against greatness.

"paethetic..." (none / 0) (#14)
by nathan on Fri Nov 2nd, 2001 at 03:19:20 PM PST
This is right up there with The Lion.

Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

Oh, what a _fresh_ idea! (none / 0) (#11)
by tkatchev on Thu Nov 1st, 2001 at 10:16:17 PM PST
Last time we tried that, we ended up in the Gulag. Very fun.

Peace and much love...

You're only talking about *Russia*. (none / 0) (#12)
by elenchos on Thu Nov 1st, 2001 at 10:44:44 PM PST
We'd all be living in shallow caves cut into riverbanks wearing mud with bits of grass stuck to it if we limited ourselves to systems that work for the primitive Russian human. Nothing works for that kind of country: democracy, no democracy. Religion, no religion. Whatever. The whole place is a permanent disaster area that staggers drunkenly from a crisis to a coup to an upheaval to an economic or nuclear meltdown. If you aren't throwing each other in your barbaric gulags you are staging pogroms or blowing up your nuclear reactors your own faces, you are spreading terror, war and atomic fallout to your unlucky, miserable neighbors.

What the hell does the civilized world have to learn from such people? You spend 70 years in thrall to a Communist pipe dream and the very second you are given the chance to think for yourselves, you immediately stick your head in the yoke of a fundamentalist Bible creed. What the hell are you so proud of?

Europe, USia -- we have steadily increased religious freedom and steadily decreased our preoccupation with Godism. And we have not conincidentally grown stronger, wiser and richer the entire way.

Look. If you think you have place that knows a better way, call me from a country that is not a cess pit.

I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill

I don't understand... (none / 0) (#3)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Nov 1st, 2001 at 07:16:58 AM PST
why would anyone want the spirits that are in hell to come back and party with them?

try to explain (none / 0) (#7)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Nov 1st, 2001 at 09:09:04 PM PST
It's not so much that you are inviting the spirits back from hell. Think of it more as the Land of the Dead.

Also the masks are a way to scare away evil spirits. It is also a way to frighten away spirits that have lingered here too long because they do not know they are dead or their sould is sadden and they cannot pass on.

sounds like a waste of money to me (none / 0) (#4)
by alprazolam on Thu Nov 1st, 2001 at 12:49:53 PM PST
why would you want to through all that capital away at something that doesn't even increase productivity?


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